Starting from scratch: creative project planning

The best way to start a new project with a new team is to build it from the ground-up based on the skills and expertise of everyone involved.   The planning process can be frustrating to those that want to stuck in straight away, but spending a good amount of time discussing the project upfront can help to provide more space for experimentation and creativity further down the line.

Planning isn’t just about setting out the tasks and timeline – in fact, if you start off from here, you’re missing a big trick of making the project the best it could be.  It’s actually a great stage of exploration, research and entrepreneurial thinking about how you’re going to make the project happen.  Start thinking BIG and WIDE by bringing together the knowledge of everyone involved, and gradually honing the project down into what’s possible within the resources and the time available.

This ensures that all the team members are setting off in the same direction, and builds stronger foundations from the start.  It’s not about setting everything in stone from the beginning, but developing a framework and guide to fill in and shape as you go along.

Some questions to ask:

What is the idea? A simple question, but important!  Team members may have different views and understanding of what the project is, or will be.  Clear this up by ensuring everyone has a chance to air their ideas at the beginning, and then shape the project based on this.

What are you aiming towards? Visualise what the project outcome could look like when it’s finished and how you will know that it’s been successful.  Rather than developing in-depth creative ideas (that’s for later), again, this is bringing together the thoughts of team members of what they see as important for the project.

Who is it for? Consider the end users of the project, and those that might be involved along the way.  Pull together a good idea of their characteristics and needs, and what should be included in the project on this basis.

What’s happening? Bring together the team’s industry knowledge on external trends and factors (this might require further research).  Think about how these factors support your idea and could have an impact on it.  Learn from previous projects and identify how you could make yours different and unique.

What do you have? Build your project around the resources, skills and expertise that exists within the team.  This gives everyone an opportunity, at the beginning, to identify what they can contribute.  Also think about any gaps that exist and whether they need to be filled, or whether you need to re-think the structure of the project based on this.

The next stage will be to discuss project budget (both income and expenditure) timeline and tasks.

My next post will provide some tips on running meetings to kick-start creative projects and pull ideas together.

Image: My Tudut on Flickr

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